I’ve been around long enough to see people tremble the moment they hear they are going to take a medical writing test.
I get it.
If you’re like me, then the word “test” conjures up images of sitting in a quiet room for two hours unable to talk to anyone else or consult any resource for help as you prove in that time that you remember facts a teacher taught you.
I get it.
Despite our fear of tests, however, you probably would not be reading this post if you hadn’t passed a sufficient number of tests in your life.
So just like those tests, with some guidance, you can do well with a medical writing test as well.
But first…why do we need medical writing tests?
It is important to realize that not every medical writing job will require you to take a test.
However, when a test is required, it is often so the company or hiring manager can assess any of the following:
- Your writing skills: As a writer, it is important to communicate complex scientific information in a clear, concise, and accurate way. Whatever you write must be grammatically and structurally accurate as well. A medical writing test will assess your ability to do this.
- Your ability to follow guidelines: In regulatory writing especially, there are strict guidelines set forth by governmental agencies that you must follow. A medical writing test will assess how well you can follow the specific guidelines and standards. This will often include guidelines around format, style, tone, and citations.
- Your research skills: The company or hiring manager may be looking at how well you can find, evaluate, and use reliable sources and evidence-based information to support your writing. They also want to evaluate how well you can synthesize relevant data and evidence into a document type.
- Critical thinking skills: As a medical writer, it is important that you present information in a logical, coherent, and where necessary, persuasive way. You also need to be able to identify and address knowledge gaps, and limitations of findings. A test may give the company or hiring manager the chance to assess this as well.
- Time management skills: A medical writing test may also assess how well you can plan, organize, and prioritize your work.
Now let’s delve into some tips to help you pass a medical writing test.
5 tips for passing a medical writing test
Pay attention to the guidelines
I have actually had people reach out to me to ask me how they needed to tackle a medical writing test they had been assigned. I had to tell them to go and read the instructions!
Every test is going to differ in its guidelines and expectations. So make sure to pay close attention to the guidelines.
No matter how seasoned another medical writer is, the best way you will succeed on your test is to make sure you review the brief or instructions for the test carefully. If there is something you are not one hundred percent clear on, contact or talk to the hiring manager or whoever assigned the test for clarification.
Research your topic
Once you make sure you understand the guidelines for the test, I don’t recommend you start writing just yet. Gather the resources you need for that writing the document you were assigned. PubMed is a good place to start for peer-reviewed papers on topics. There are other websites like clinicaltrials.gov, Stat News, and BioSpace that you might find useful as well.
Once you’ve gathered the relevant information, then it is time to write.
A word of caution:
As much as possible, resist the urge to use an AI tool to write the document. I am a fan of AI writing tools and find that they are a helpful aid. However, they do get a lot of facts wrong and in one test I did, the AI tool made up 9 out of 10 citations. I know improvements are coming to these tools every day. But if you want to write a document that is original and near error-free, skip using an AI tool to write the actual document.
Follow the writing guidelines
As you write, follow the format, style, and tone guidelines for the specific type of document you’ve been assigned. Make sure you are honest and ethical in your writing. Cite every source and don’t plagiarize. As a rule of thumb, don’t use complex language unless it is absolutely necessary. Simple and straightforward sentences will always win the day.
Proofread your work
When you finish writing, proofread your writing for spelling, grammar, punctuation, and clarity. I particularly like Grammarly for this purpose. However, again, remember that Grammarly is a tool (a very helpful one) but sometimes, it might suggest corrections that don’t make sense for a scientific/medical topic.
Submit your work by the deadline
Don’t get dinged for a late submission when you wrote a wonderful piece. I could be the very reason you lose this opportunity. Remember that time management is something a hiring manager for a medical writing test is often assessing you on.
The biggest and best tip of all:
You accomplish little when you are stressed. So as you prepare for your medical writing test, remember to take a deep breath and remember that you can do this.
I wish you all the best!